The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Yvette Alexander rules out at-large D.C. Council run

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It’s not typically surprising to hear a politician toy with the notion of seeking higher office, but when D.C. Council member Yvette M. Alexander (D-Ward 7) said last month that she was considering a run for an at-large seat, more than a few politically attuned jaws dropped.

After all, to seek an at-large seat this fall, Alexander would have to give up her Democratic party affiliation and take her chances in a crowded and competitive race likely to include other strong independent candidates. Moreover, Alexander won her last Democratic primary with only a 42 percent plurality and, in the course of discussing her interest in the at-large seat, suggested that she was no longer particularly interested in attending to constituent service needs as a ward member — which is sort of like getting elected dogcatcher and announcing you’re not especially fond of catching dogs.

On Wednesday, Alexander said she has thought it through and made a decision: She’ll remain a Democrat and remain in her Ward 7 seat. In fact, as she first said to WTTG-TV’s Matt Ackland, she officially plans to seek reelection in 2016.

Moreover, Alexander sought to make clear that her comments on constituent services were “misunderstood” — that while she has relished her recent duties as chairman of the Health Committee, steeping her in crucial citywide issues, her vigor for helping resolve neighborhood issues has not waned.

Alexander’s desire to clear the air comes after what she calls a “combative” e-mail from Ward 7 Democrats President Ed Potillo, who according to Alexander questioned her willingness to leave the Democratic Party and suggested that she should have consulted with the ward party organization first. That led to a tense meeting between Alexander and the group’s executive committee.

“I don’t think any damage was done,” Alexander said. “I had to clarify the misinformation about constituent services. They thought I was sick of constituent services, when it is actually why I chose to pursue this full time. … They’re comfortable now with the leadership and the direction the ward is going.”

A member of the Ward 7 Democrats’ executive committee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the meeting was intended to be private, said that the face-to-face encounter was “fierce” and that not all is water under the bridge. “Damage has already been done,” the committee member said. “From what I understand, everyone’s waiting to run for her seat. Half of Ward 7.”

That sentiment comes as no surprise to Alexander: “That’s always going to be a concern,” she said. “In Ward 7, you can always count on an ample field of candidates.”